Some people say this is overlong. I’m not entirely sure I agree. At the pace the novel moves at, I can’t see what might be omitted. What I will state however, is that it’s almost an entire duplication. Tartt seems to be a one-trick pony.
The protagonist is a young man, alienated from his parents and placed in a strange environment. He ends up involved in a crime that, although he bears some responsibility for, can be explained away due to circumstance and spends the rest of the novel (and his life?) dealing with the consequences of that.
If you’ve read The Secret History, you might find that synopsis familiar because I have, in fact, just described the plot of the novel Tartt wrote 21 years prior to Goldfinch and which she has pulled out the freezer and hastily warmed up in the microwave, throwing in some refried beans to mask the taste of leftovers.
But move along people there’s nothing to see here. The writing style is exactly the same, the protagonist’s wounded psyche is the constantly recurring theme and everything turns out absolutely fine in the end.
How this made the 1001 Books list I’m not sure. How it won a Pulitzer seems a travesty. It reads more like young fiction than classic fiction. Sure, she can write a story and create characters, but hardly any of the plot or individuals that people it are believable except as characters in fiction. There’s definitely no deeper nuanced message packaged expertly for the reader to discover. I’m thankful that it’s my last Tartt.